[January 16, 2019] The silent movie A Dog’s Life (1918) starring Charlie Chaplin is a short 33-minute comedy about a tramp and his dog. Written, directed, and filmed during World War I, the need by the American public to witness a display of compassion was a necessary distraction from the horrors of the war.
American forces under U.S. General George Pershing had arrived in Europe nearly a year before but had not engaged in major combat by the Spring of 1918. That would, however, quickly change as the tragic events of the war would more and more hit the front pages of every newspaper.
In the movie, poor Charlie lives in a vacant lot. He tries to get a job, but when he gets to the head of the employment line, the jobs are gone. Back “home” he rescues Scraps, a female mutt that was being attacked by other strays.
Set in the same atmosphere of the depressing ghettos of 1918, the Tramp becomes friends with a stray dog. A lost soul much like himself, the Tramp and the tramp become friends and become a team.
The title indicated that this is the story of the dog, when in fact, the Dog is the Tramp! Both are homeless and without love in their lives. By the end of the movie, they both end up finding true love and end up living a better life, together.
I like to watch old movies. I watch them for the action and to get a small glimpse into what made them so popular back when they were made. Movies are made to make money, but they are also a look into the minds of those who lived at that time and what influenced popular culture.
“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.” – Confucius, Chinese philosopher
Compassion can be found almost anywhere if you look for it. But compassion is not something that bubbles to the surface of humankind without effort and understanding, morality and decisiveness and taking risks and fear. The little tramp dog Scrapes provides us with something that is good.
A Dog’s Life, in its entirety, can be seen here at this YouTube link (32:33 minutes).